This is what patriarchy sounds like

December 2, 2014

I will write plenty about music in this blog (It’s how I started out as a writer, after all), but this is about another sound: the ultrasound. When we found out we were going to have a baby, we both hoped for a girl. My main motivation, to be honest, was to avoid the whole  “to circumcise or not” decision. I love the idea of raising a feminist son, but I remember what a warlord I was as a boy and a girl just seemed to resolve a lot of parenting issues.

I really didn’t want to know the sex of the baby before it was born but Andrea did. She promised that she wouldn’t tell me. (I think she didn’t want to refer to the kid as “it” for 9 months.) I wanted to avoid the tidal wave of pink or blue that would start the gender socialization even before the kid hatched. But I gave in knowing there was no way she could keep such a secret and we headed off to the ultrasound appointment to find out which lane of the gender binary we would be dropped in to.

The woman at the medical office slathered the goo on Andrea’s belly and we anxiously watched the TV monitor, like we were looking for life on another planet. And there the baby was, quite alien looking. We were having an alien! Then, the clarification was made. “You are not having an alien baby. You are having a little girl.”

We were really excited to find out we had a girl bun in the oven. Our reaction caught the medical technician off guard. “I’m glad you are happy. Most people are upset when they find out they are having a girl.”


“Yeah, I’ve even had dads say to the moms ‘You should have gotten an abortion. You know I wanted a son.’ Like it was the mom’s fault.”

Now this is in “liberal” Portland, Oregon, home of riot grrrls, where “all the hot girls wear glasses” (according to Portlandia). So I asked, “Are you talking about a particular ethnic group?” I was thinking maybe Indian immigrants, or Somalis.

“Nope,” she said. “It’s pretty much across the board. A lot of white guys only want sons.”

This is what patriarchy sounds like around the world. Sons are are valued over daughters. Countries like India and China are suffering from a lack of women because so many female fetuses are aborted, which, ironically, reinforces male power in sheer number alone. Patriarchy is NOT a cultural universal, but where it exists, it reaches right into women’s wombs.

The War on Baby Girls: Gendercide

Whether it’s the denial of education of girls in Afghanistan by the Taliban or American Southern Baptists demanding the wives submit to their husbands, the devaluing of girls and women has a corrosive effect around the world. Even in liberal Portland. And you can hear it in the ultrasound clinics of the city every day.

When I heard that reminder from the technician, I was really glad I was having a daughter.

4 thoughts on “This is what patriarchy sounds like

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